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Alicia Keys Says She Was 'Embarrassed' To Ask For Help Early On In Her Career
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Alicia Keys Says She Was 'Embarrassed' To Ask For Help Early On In Her Career

Singer and entrepreneur Alicia Keys recently recalled the challenges she encountered early in her career, prompting her to create a mentorship program for young women.


Keys rose to fame in 2001 following her debut album, Songs in A Minor. The album, which featured the hit singles "Fallin'" and "A Woman's Worth," would ultimately sell over 10 million copies. Throughout Keys' two-decade career, the "If I Ain't Got You" vocalist has participated in various acting projects, created a skincare brand, released nine studio albums, sold more than 65 million records worldwide, and won countless awards.

Since then, Keys has taken the knowledge she has learned within the entertainment industry over the years and is sharing those gems with the creation of her mentorship program, She Is The Music. During a June interview with Metro, the 42-year-old opened up about She Is The Music and why she felt an organization like this would have benefitted her early on in her career.

Alicia Keys On She Is The Music Program And Her Early Career Struggles 

She Is The Music was founded in 2018 by Keys, Jody Gerson, Sam Kirby, and Ann Mincieli. The outlet reports that Keys' inspiration for the nonprofit organization stemmed from a study she saw the year before about the lack of "female creators in the industry." She Is The Music's mission is to support and guide young women in all aspects of the music industry.

In the discussion, Keys --who was promoting Uncharted, a documentary that showcased the behind-the-scenes look of She Is The Music's songwriting camp-- raved about the mentorship program and explained that she would've enjoyed being a part of it during the early stages of her career due to the various challenges she encountered when seeking mentors.

"I think about that a lot. I've talked a lot about the way that I didn't always feel like I had mentorship, or I didn't know who to reach out to," she said. "I didn't really know if they would want to help me, or I felt embarrassed about it. I think it's really beautiful to create an organization like She Is The Music, where you feel like you can create a sisterhood."

Further, into the interview, Keys added that She Is The Music is more than just about opening doors for young women. The mother of two disclosed that although each person that joins the mentorship program would be given opportunities to work alongside established women, the main goal is to create a sisterhood.

"You can have a place to go where people care about, maybe giving you opportunities to learn under another established woman. Or in a business sense of something that you're interested in," she stated. "I definitely think I would have felt more inclined to reach out and create more of a sisterhood and really know that we can work together and create what we want for ourselves and the world."

On Not Feeling Shameful 

Inc. reported that most people feel shameful about seeking help for any particular situation because it isn't ideal for individuals to talk about a problem they may be facing. Another factor contributing to the shame is that mentors usually aren't getting paid for their services.

The publication said that although it may not be ideal to some, in the corporate world, many are always asking others, including the higher ups for advice or help with their issues because it is for the betterment of everyone involved.

On Taking The First Steps

In finding a suitable mentor, one can't be afraid to take the first step.

According to Inc., many professionals are always trying to find ways to "give back to the community," even if it means offering their guidance and knowledge in a particular field. But because those professionals aren't actively seeking mentees, you have to take the first step.

Taking the first step may mean taking the person out for coffee and starting a "conversation to pick their brain" about a particular subject. This tactic could form a long-term relationship that could benefit your career.

On Setting Boundaries 

The third and final rule of landing a mentor is to set boundaries early on.

Setting boundaries is important because you want to avoid taking advantage of someone willing to help you. Due to mentoring being, at most times, an unpaid gig, it is essential to only ask for help when needed. Inc. suggested that the one way to set boundaries after obtaining a mentor is to ask them for their availability and preferred contact method.

Hopefully, these three tips have provided some insight into how to land a mentor.

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Feature image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

 

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